Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

me.

whom I had seen at New York. Having travelled on horseback, he had arrived at Philadelphia before

He introduced me to his son, who received me with civility, and gave me some breakfast, but told me he had no occasion at present for a journeyman, have ing lately procured one. He added, that there was another printer newly settled in the town, of the name of Keimer, who might perhaps employ me; and that in case of refusal, I should be welcome to lodge at his house, and he would give me a little work now and then, till something better should offer.

The old man offered to introduce me to the new printer. When we were at his house, “ Neighbour,” said he, “ I bring you a young man in the printing business; perhaps you may have need of his services.”

· Keimer asked me some questions, put a composingstick in my hand to see how I could work, and then said, that at present he had nothing for me to do, but that he should soon be able to employ me. At the same time taking old Bradford for an inhabitant of the town well-disposed towards him, he communicated his project to him, and the prospect he had of success. Bradford was careful not to discover that he was the father of the other printer; and from what Keimer had said, that he hoped shortly to be in possession of the greater part of the business of the town, led him, by artful questions, and by starting some difficulties, to disclose all bis views, what his hopes were founded upon, and how he intended to proceed. I was present and heard it all. I instantly saw that one of the two was a cunning old fox, and the other a perfect novice. Bradford left me with Keimer, who was strangely surprised when I informed him who the old man was.

I found Keimer's printing materials to consist of an old damaged press, and a small fount of worn-out English letters, with which he himself was at work upon an elegy on Aquila Rose, whom I have mentioned above, an ingenious young man, and of an excellent character, highly esteemed in the town, secretary to the Assembly, and a very tolerable poet. Keimer

also made verses, but they were indifferent ones. He could not be said to write in verse, for his method was to set the lines as they flowed from his muse; and as he worked without copy, had but one set of letter-cases, and the elegy would probably occupy all his types, it was impossible for any one to assist him. I endeavoured to put his press in order, which he had not yet used, and of which indeed he understood nothing: and, having promised to come and work off his elegy as soon as it should be ready, I returned to the house of Bradford, who gave me some trifle to do for the present, for which I had my board and lodging.

In a few days Keimer sent for me to print off his elegy. He had now procured another set of lettercases, and had a pamphlet to reprint, upon which he set me to work.

The two Philadelphia printers appeared destitute of every qualification necessary in their profession. Bradford had not been brought up to it, and was very illiterate. Keimer, though he understood a little of the business, was merely a compositor, and wholly incapable of working at press. He had been one of the French prophets, and knew how to imitate their supernatural agitations. At the time of our first acquaintance he professed no particular religion, but a little of all upon occasion. He was totally ignorant of the world, and a great knave at heart, as I had afterwards an opportunity of experiencing.

Keimer could not endure that, working with him, I should lodge at Bradford's. He had indeed a house, but it was unfurnished; so that he could not take me in. He procured me a lodging at Mr. Read's, his landlord, whom I have already mentioned. My trunk and effects being now arrived, I thought of making, in the eyes of Miss Read, a more respectable appearance than when chance exhibited me to her view, eat. ing my roll, and wandering in the streets.

From this period I began to contract acquaintance with such young people as were fond of reading, and spent my evenings with them agreeably, while at the

[ocr errors]

same time I gained money by my industry, and, thanks to my frugality, lived contented. I thus forgot Boston as much as possible, and wished every one to be ignorant of the place of my residence, except my friend Collins, to whom I wrote, and who kept my secret.

An incident however arrived, whicle sent me home much sooner than I had proposed. I had a brotherin-law, of the name of Robert Hoimes, master of a trading sloop from Boston to Delaware. Being at Newcastle, forty miles below Philadelphia, he heard of me, and wrote to inform me of the chagrin which my sudden departure from Boston had occasioned my parents, and of the affection which they still entertained for me, assuring me that, if I would return, every thing should be adjusted to my satisfaction; and he was very pressing in his entreaties. I answered his letter, thanked him for his advice, and explained the reasons which had induced me to quit Boston, with such force and clearness, that he was convinced I had been less to blame than he had imagined.

Sir William Keith, governor of the province, was at Newcastle at the time. Captain Holmes, being by chance in his company when he received my leiter, took occasion to speak of me, and shewed it him. The Governor read it, and appeared surprised when he learned my age. He thought me, he said, a young man of very promising talents, and that, of consequence, I ought to be encouraged; that there were at Philadelphia none but very ignorant printers, and that if I were to set up for myself, he had no doubt of my success; that, for his own part, he would procure me all the public business, and would render me every other service in his power. My brother-in-law related all this to me afterwards at Boston; but I knew nothing of it at the time; when one day Keimer and 1, being at work together near the window, we saw the Governor and another gentleman, Colonel French. of Newcastle, handsomely dressed, cross the street, and make directly for our house. We heard them at :he door, and Keimer, believing it to be a visit to

I was,

hitaself, went immediately down: but the Governor inquired for me, came up stairs, and with a condescension and politeness to which I had not at all been accustomed, paid me many compliments, desired to be acquainted with me, obligingly reproached me for not having made myself known to him on my arrival in the town, and wished me to accompany him to a tavern, where he and Colonel French were going to taste some excellent Madeira wine.

I confess, somewhat surprised, and Keimer appeared thunderstruck. I went, however, with the Governor and the Colonel to a tavern at the corner of Third Street, where, while we were drinking the Ma. deira, he proposed to me to establish a printing house. He set forth the probabilities of success, and himself and Colonel French assured me that I should have their protection and influence in obtaining the printing of the public papers of both governments; and as I appeared to doubt whether my father would assist me in this enterprise, Sir William said that he would give me a letter to him, in which he would represent the advantages of the scheme, in a light which he had no doubt would determine him. It was thus concluded that I should return to Boston by the first vessel, with the letter of recommendation, from the Governor to my father. Meanwhile the project was to be kept secret, and I continued to work for Keimer as before.

The Governor sent every now and then to invite me to dine with him. I considered this as a very great honour; and I was the more sensible of it, as he conversed with me in the most affable, familiar, and friendly manner imaginable.

Towards the end of April, 1724, a small vessel was ready to sail for Boston. I took leave of Keimer, upon the pretext of going to see my parents. The Governor gave me a long letter, in which he said many flattering things of me to my father; and strongly recommended the project of my settling at Philadelphia, as a thing which could not fail to make my fortune.

Going down the bay we struck on a flat, and sprung a leak.

The weather was very tempestuous, and we were obliged to pump without intermission; I took my turn. We arrived, however, safe and sound, at Boston, after about a fortnight's passage.

I had been absent seven complete months, and my relations, during that interval, had received no intelligence of me; for my brother-in-law, Holmes, was not yet returned, and had not written about me. My un. expected appearance surprised the family; but they were all delighted at seeing me again, and, except my brother, welcomed me home. I went to him at tho printing house. I was better dressed than I had ever been while in his service: I had a complete suit of clothes, new and neat, a watch in my pocket, and my purse was furnished with nearly five pounds sterling in money. He gave me no very civil reception; and, having eyed me froin head to foot, resumed his work.

The workmen asked me with eagerness where I had been, what sort of a country it was, and how I liked it. I spoke in the highest terms of Philadelphia, the happy life we led there, and expressed my intention of going back again. One of them asking what sort of money we had, I displayed before them a handful of silver, which I drew from my pocket. This was a curiosity to which they were not accustomed, paper being the current money at Boston. I failed not after this to let them ses my watch; and, at last, my brother continuing sullen and out of humour, I gave them a shilling to drink, and took my leave. This visit stung my brother to the soul; for when, shortly after, my mother spoke to him of a reconciliation, and a desire to see us upon good terms, he told her that I had so insulted him before his men, that he would never forget or forgive it: in this, however, he was mistaken.

The Governor's letter appeared to excite in my father some surprise; but he said little. After some days, Captain Holmes being returned, he shewed it him asking him if he kneöv Keith, and what sort of a

« ZurückWeiter »